There’s nothing we can do that can’t be done – Right Charles?
Charles Brandt Receives Award – On behalf of All of Us.
On Tuesday May 30, 2017 Fr. Charles Brandt received the British Columbia Community Achievement Award for his role in ecological stewardship.
kathryn jones photo
Comox Valley Regional District Director, Edwin Grieve, presented the award to Charles, who at 94, couldn’t attend the Provincial Award Ceremony in Victoria. Upon receiving the award Charles said, “this is an award to all of us, it isn’t just to me.”
The story goes back to the mid 1960’s, about the time Charles arrived in the Comox Valley to join a colony of Catholic hermit monks. They lived near the Tsolum River. On the mountain above them, the Mount Washington Copper Mining Co. operated an open pit mine for two years before going bankrupt. After the mine was abandoned, the site’s 940,000 tonnes of waste rock brewed sulphuric acid that leached copper and other heavy metals into the Tsolum River Watershed for 44 years.
In 1985 Charles Brandt wrote a letter to the BC Ministry of Environment – it began with the words, “the Tsolum River is dead.”
And so began an epic 30 year struggle that brought together a diverse group of stakeholders and agencies who worked to obtain funds and find the solution to properly cap the mine to stop the deadly pollution.
Charles Brandt during the mine reclamation project
After the reclamation work was finally completed in 2010, the salmon returned to the river within one year. As Charles explained at the meeting, “In 1984 we had 9 Pink Salmon return (to the Tsolum River), and then… we got the mine fixed. 2 years ago 130,000 pinks returned.”
Many friends and collaborators came out to show their appreciation for Charles and his life-long efforts to protect local watersheds and change the human relationship with nature.
When Charles spoke at the award ceremony he reiterated the following:
We experience a sense of wonder and delight when we fall in love with the natural world. It is only when we love someone or something that we will save them. And we can only love someone when we consider him or her as Sacred. Only the Sense of the Sacred will Save Us.
Thank you Charles, for your steadfast and inspiring example. In this difficult moment of earth’s history, you give us hope to move forward as active agents of change – as surely as the river flows to the sea.
From the BC Achievement Awards Website
Fr. Charles Brandt, ERM
Father Charles Brandt believes that it is humanity’s great work to transform our disruptive influence on the earth to a benign presence. As a leading member of the Tsolum River Restoration Society, in partnership with other groups, he spearheaded a campaign to get the old copper mine site capped at a cost of $4.5 million, which enabled the return of salmon to the river. Father Brandt has also volunteered with the Oyster River Enhancement Society contributing to the return of salmon and trout stocks to the once decimated river.
(click to enlarge)
Recognizing and celebrating the spirit, imagination, dedication and contribution of British Columbians to their communities.
The recipients of the 2017 awards are: (click on recipient for details)
A pink salmon in the Tsolum River (below) – Charles Brandt photo
The worst sin to our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them;
that’s the essence of inhumanity. ~ George Bernard Shaw